Repeat After Me: “Make This Your Easy Pace”



This morning I was training a client. Her workout was: 90 seconds on the rowing machine, 40 kettlebell swings, rest x 4.

For round #2, I challenged her to row more meters than she had in her first round. She sprinted all out and destroyed her first round distance. But she was huffing and puffing too hard and had to take a break before her second set of kettlebell swings.

Round 3 on the rower I challenged her to “make this your easy pace”. I asked her to match her second round distance but make it feel easy.

She did just that. She hopped off the rower after rowing the same distance as round 2 and went right into kettlebells, no rest needed.


As your trainer, if I see you struggling, I could coach you through good form: relax your shoulders, keep your core tight, support your lower back, drive your knees… But by the time I get to the end of all the cues I’d need to start back at the beginning. Instead, if I keep telling you to “make it easy”, you naturally relax, control your breathing and find good form.

When running, you stop fighting to turn your legs over and take more efficient steps. When biking, you begin to make smoother circles, pushing and pulling evenly. And when rowing, this client relaxed, stopped struggling and found a better rhythm by taking the time to fully extend each stroke.

Try it for yourself! Go out and make fast your easy pace!


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Filed under Beginner Exercise, General Fitness, Running

Give These Feet a Set of Wheels, I’m Ready to Ride!

Me and my lady.
Sometimes she gets lazy and I carry her.

I decided it’s finally time for me to be a biker.

If you know me, you might be confused by that statement. I own enough bikes and related equipment to have an entire sun porch dedicated to them.

But, in addition to the fact that I took a hiatus from even commuting by bike after my traumatic car-meets-me on bike accident, I have never raced nor even clocked my speed on a bike. It’s only been a hobby, a way to exercise and a form of commuting. I have been contemplating a bike race or duathlon for some time, but it wasn’t until my recent running frustration that I decided my racing life needed something completely new.

I am working on coming back from my injuries – finally – but I am fighting against myself. I am so stubborn and self-competitive that it’s not working. I am getting frustrated because my times are not competitive. My times are not what they used to be. I know it will take time. I know I need to just let it happen. But I can’t. I can’t stop comparing today’s race times to yesterday’s. I tried running a distance that I have never done before. That was a little better. I got a personal record in that distance, but my average mile time was still posted and was still a full minute 15 seconds slower than my average pace this time last year.

Everyone had advice. Lots of advice.

Finally, I have figured out, for myself, what I think might work: a whole new race modality. I am going to get on my bike and start clocking my speed. And guess what? No matter what time it is, I have zero knowledge of my pre-injury average pace!

So … Hi. My name is Sally and I’m a biker!

Now about getting a road bike … anyone looking to help a broke, new biker out … one that only has hybrid and mountain bikes? 🙂


Filed under Athletes, Biking, Running

Calf Strains: When Sore Muscles Just Don’t Go Away

I’m not a medical guru. I can’t tell you the biological happenings behind what I’m feeling. But I can tell you this: pain sucks!

My body was feeling good last week. Mentally and physically I was ready to train hard. So I did. I went to the track and I sprinted. I sprinted hard and fast. I ran 2 sets of 4 400-meter sprints. That wasn’t new to me. But with indoor track season coming and cross country leaving, I had this idea that I should wear my minimalist shoes because they help me stay on my toes — something I need to start doing more of to really get an extra push from my track shoes. When I woke up the next day, I could barely walk: my calves were so sore!

Three days later? Still sore.

A week later? Still sore!

Today, 10 days after the minimalist sprinting workout, I still have tenderness and pain.

I knew I hadn’t torn anything. When you tear your calf you hear it and feel instant pain. I questioned my recovery methods, but I have used everything from a foam roller to compression clothing and been religious about stretching and resting.


Compression. So much compression wearing.

I just keep asking everyone: “Have you ever had a sore muscle for over a week?!” It usually goes away within a day or two. Finally tonight I turned to Google. Self diagnosis from WebMD, Wikipedia and an actual running injury source says I have a muscle strain in my calves which is comparable to a sprained ankle.


At least I have validation and reassurance that it’s going to go away eventually on its own. I just hope it’s a grade 1 strain which should heal up in a few more days and not a grade 2 which could last two more weeks!

Have you ever had a sore muscle for 2 weeks? Have you had a muscle strain? I’d love to hear words of encouragement from someone that knows this frustration!

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Filed under Running

Cheating to Be Fit: When Healthy Competition Goes Bad

A former roommate set up a “competition jar” for me much like some people have a “swear jar”. Every time I tried to turn an every day thing into a competition, I had to put a quarter in my jar.

I’m a competitive person. But I’ve found ways to use my competitive spirit as a healthy form of motivation and drive. When I have no one to go for a run with, I push myself by constantly trying to catch or keep up with the stranger in front of me on the running path. That’s healthy and effective. But when does competitive working out become unhealthy?

I don’t have the answer. I’m not sure that there is one specific answer that fits all people and all situations, but I do know this: when you feel so competitive with the person working out next to you that you cheat, that you do less reps to finish faster, that’s no longer healthy or motivating and you lose in the long run.

CrossFit, which is self described as “competitive working out”, is what has me thinking about this. Most of the time at CrossFit, unless you are in a competition, you are the only person counting how many reps you complete. It becomes tempting to cut a few off so that you are the fastest athlete or so you aren’t the slowest. And there’s nothing motivating, productive or healthy about cutting yourself short.

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Filed under CrossFit, General Fitness

The Workout Day That Made Me Ready to Blog Again

I am finally done being pulled down by injuries and am working hard to get back to where I was pre-accident, especially when it comes to running speed. This, combined with an awesome workout in nature on Wednesday, has made me ready to come back to this blog.

So what was so great about Wednesday’s workout?

While visiting a friend in Ohio, I headed to Caesar Creek State Park with 2 competitive bike riders for a fun day on the trails. We ran a trail loop and started some active stretching, comparing favorite moves and discussing dynamic vs. static stretching (side bar: my opinion is strongly for dynamic before working out and static after). We showed off different kinds of push ups. Then we headed to tackle some hill sprints… Actually hill sounds so weak compared to the long, steep, grassy slope before us.20121020-122422.jpg

After just one hill sprint of death each, it was back to the trails for a fast 3 mile run.


Still not worn out, we grabbed my new weight vest and the fun really started: stairs, burpees, pistols (one-legged squats) and anything else we could come up with.


We rounded the day out with another mile in the trails — me wearing the weighted vest — and some static stretching.20121020-122500.jpg

It was a gorgeous day. The weather was perfect, the scenery amazing and the company motivational. It was the kind of day worth writing about!





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Filed under Equipment and Gear, General Fitness, Running, Weight Training

Why I Am Happy to Pay Expensive Race Registration Fees

A friend I made during the last 3 miles. It was so helpful to have someone to talk to as the running got tough and we definitely helped push each other to the end, both finishing under 2:10!

I have heard people complain about the registration fees for races, especially those longer than 10 miles which can easily cost over $100. Although I certainly don’t like shelling out so much money just to run, I definitely understand the fees. Allow me to illustrate the need for such high registration costs by pointing out a few things about the race I ran this weekend that started at $40 and went up to only $60 as race day approached.

1. Bathrooms? Who needs port-a-potties? The only place to take a quick bathroom break was the start and finish line. Luckily, I have never needed to stop and go during a race of any length, but unluckily several of my fellow racers yesterday were not so good at holding it. I had to watch far too many people, men and women, peeing along the side of the course. And some were not concerned about being discreet. Wonder how the course smells today…

2. You’re not thirsty, are you? Again, I am fortunate that I train without water or gel and was able to power through and wait til the end to rehydrate because this race was not concerned about keeping you hydrated. There were a couple places to grab a drink — maybe 4 or 5 water stops and 1 Gatorade — but no gels.

3. Safety? What’s that? Along the course there was very little support of any kind. I saw only one place where medical could have seen you and I saw several spots where older runners were sitting down on the sidewalk, struggling. There was no one I could tell that these runners might need help. And the biggest safety risk that is also one of the biggest costs of races? The roads were not closed! We were running with traffic, angry, pissed off traffic. There were times when cars were even crossing the course and runners had to stop and wait for cars to pass: not a problem on your training run, but not something you are apt to look out for during a race.

So if you are okay with no bathrooms, minimal hydration and no concern for your safety, then by all means, complain away about paying so much for a race. Otherwise, try to understand where the costs are coming from and how much work goes into putting together a safe, fun race.

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Filed under Running

Keep Calm and Carry On

As my track and running training grows, I have more workouts and races that I have to really push through than I used to. I’ve picked up a few key phrases that seem to work for me, for repeating in my head when you need to keep calm and carry on, keeping your legs moving, your shoulders back and relaxed and your head up.

“Go with her!” — courtesy of my track coach, for when someone is getting ready to pass me.

“Look up and see where she is. Don’t let her get too far ahead.” — my track coach, when I am slipping back.

“You can do anything for 90 seconds!” — coach at CrossFit 215.

"You are in control of your breath."

“You are in control of your speed. Make this speed your easy pace!” — all running coaches seem to love to tell you this.

“Relax and let it happen.” — track coach, when I am fighting too hard.

“Control your breath. You are in control of your breath.” — I think I took this one a bit too much to heart during the New Orleans Rock and Roll Half Marathon. Check out the picture attached to this post!

“Focus on your form. Don’t let your form suffer as you get tired.” — track coach, when I am exhausted and have a little more workout to get through. When this one comes, I know I am sucking.

Here’s a new one that came to me this morning via Runner’s World Quote of the Day email: “The true measure of a runner isn’t in time, but rather in the effort it took along the way.” — Coach Jenny Hadfield

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Filed under Running